Six In The Morning Thursday 21 September 2023

Mohammed bin Salman: ‘I don’t care’ about ‘sportswashing’ accusations

Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman says he does not care about accusations of ‘sportswashing’.

The Gulf kingdom has been accused of investing in sport and using high-profile events to improve its international reputation.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) led the takeover of Newcastle United last year and launched LIV Golf.

“If sportswashing is going to increase my GDP by 1%, then we’ll continue doing sportswashing,” Bin Salman said.

He told Fox News: “I don’t care [about the term]. I have 1% growth in GDP from sport and I am aiming for another 1.5%.

India suspends visa services for Canadians in further decline in relations

Announcement of ‘security threats’ follows Justin Trudeau’s claims India was involved in Sikh activist’s killing

Relations between India and Canada have further deteriorated after Delhi announced it was suspending visa services for Canadians due to “security threats” faced by its embassy and consulates in Canada.

BLS International, which runs the Indian visa offices in Canada, put a notice on its website stating that all visa services for Canadians were suspended until further notice, citing “operational reasons”.

Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson for India’s foreign ministry, confirmed the suspension at a media briefing, mentioning “the incitement to violence, the inaction by the Canadian authorities and the creation of an environment that disrupts the functioning of our high commission and consulates” as the reason.

Poland says it will no longer supply Ukraine with weapons

Warsaw says it is ending its supply of weapons to Ukraine, but that future deliveries could still be on the table. The move comes amid a growing dispute over a grain import ban with Kyiv.

The Polish government said on Thursday it will only carry out previously agreed weapons deliveries to Ukraine but has not ruled out deliveries in the future.

The latest comments come on the heels of an announcement by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who said on Wednesday that Poland would no longer send weapons to Kyiv and instead focus on its own defense.

Warsaw has also summoned Kyiv’s ambassador amid a growing row over grain exports.

What did the Polish prime minister say?

“We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons,” Morawiecki said.

“Ukraine is defending itself against Russia’s brutal attack, and I understand this situation, but we will defend our country,” he said.

Checkmate in Nagorno-Karabakh? How Azerbaijan got Armenia to back down

The Armenian separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh on Wednesday agreed to lay down their weapons following Azerbaijan’s lightning offensive in the Armenian-majority enclave. Between Moscow’s weakening position in the Caucasus and the West’s dependence on hydrocarbons, Azerbaijan has taken advantage of a favourable international context to complete a decades-long mission to control the disputed region.

After more than 30 years of conflict, the battle between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh may soon conclude. Under the guise of an “anti-terrorist operation” following the death of four soldiers and two civilians, Baku continued its efforts to reassert control over Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday.

Armenian separatists – who have mostly governed the disputed territory since 1994 – promptly agreed on Wednesday to surrender their weapons following Baku’s lightning offensive, indicating they are open to talks on reintegrating the secessionist territory into Azerbaijan.

“An agreement has been reached on the withdrawal of the remaining units and servicemen of the Armenian armed forces … and on the dissolution and complete disarmament of the armed formations of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Army,” the Armenian separatist authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said in a statement.

Fukushima firms look to Europe after import ban finally lifted


September 21, 2023 at 07:00 JST

Now that the European Union has lifted import restrictions on Fukushima Prefecture’s food products, local companies finally see light at the end of the tunnel overseas after more than a decade.

The firms are now racing to explore sales channels and develop new products for overseas customers.

The EU had imposed the food import ban after the 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The ban was lifted on Aug. 3.

The companies aim to enhance their brand power in international markets, hoping to create a virtuous cycle in which their profile is also raised in the domestic market.

China just stopped exporting two minerals the world’s chipmakers need

Updated 6:42 AM EDT, Thu September 21, 2023

China’s exports of two rare minerals essential for manufacturing semiconductors fell to zero in August, a month after Beijing imposed curbs on sales overseas, citing national security.

China produces about 80% of the world’s gallium and about 60% of germanium, according to the Critical Raw Materials Alliance, but it didn’t sell any of the elements on international markets last month, Chinese customs data released on Wednesday showed.
In July, the country exported 5.15 metric tons of forged gallium products and 8.1 metric tons of forged germanium products.

When asked about the lack of exports last month, He Yadong, a spokesperson from China’s commerce ministry told a press briefing Thursday that the department had received applications from companies to export the two materials. Some applications had been approved, he said, without elaborating.